Tolovana & Cannon Beach History: The Early Years

The Warren Hotel was built in 1911 on the current site of Tolovana Inn

The early years of Tolovana Park, like Cannon Beach, began in the late 1800’s.  That’s when the ambitious efforts of aspiring homesteaders began.

Early residents were drawn by the beautiful views, towering trees, and the open land.  Yet, the challenges of establishing Cannon Beach and Tolovana Park were difficult.  People who reached, lived and stayed in Tolovana had to be strong.

First, just imagine the journey.  A harrowing steamboat ride brought visitors and residents to Astoria.  Next, the train carried people south to Seaside. Finally, the last ten miles or so to Cannon Beach were traveled along a muddy trail.  People rode wagons, horses or walked.

“Proving up” your land

Warren Family, early homesteaders of Tolovana

Rudolph and Emma Bartels were among the first to establish a homestead in the Tolovana Park area in 1889. Two years later, William and Emma Warren claimed 160 acres nearby and William’s brother Mark soon followed.   Along with a few others, they “proved up their land.”

“Proving up” was part of the process outlined in the Homestead Act of 1862.  Any U.S. citizen or intended citizen could lay claim to 160 acres of surveyed Government land. Then, homesteaders had to show improvements to the site. Improvements included a 12 x 14-foot structure and productive crops.   After five years, the homesteaders could file for the land deed.  They submitted proof of residency and the required improvements to a local land office.

Tolovana:  Named for an Alaskan stream

Mark Warren  proved his claim in 1900 by building a cabin where the Wayside State Park now resides.  The Warren’s combined land claims were developed and named Tolovana Park.   Since the  Warren brothers had spent time in Alaska, therefore they drew naming inspiration from areas up north.  Tolovana means “river of sticks.”   Tolovana shares the name with a stream and valley 64 miles north of Fairbanks.

Warren Hotel: First Hotel at Tolovana

The industrious Warren Brothers opened a lumber company and an auto camp. Eventually, they built the Warren Hotel on the current site of Tolovana Inn.  Constructed in 1911, the Warren Hotel featured 16 oceanfront rooms with indoor running water.  A beautiful stone fireplace was crafted by local resident Paul Bartels.  Legendary Oregon Governor Oswald West was one of the first registered guests.

Over the decades getting to Cannon Beach became markedly easier. and the number of permanent residents and visitors has grown.  Despite the changes, what remains is the shared realization that this part of the Northern Oregon coast remains stunningly special.

 

Content for this story provided by the Cannon Beach Museum & History Center.